Ripple Chief Legal Officer Criticizes Regulators On Crypto Policies
Stuart Alderoty, the Chief Legal Officer for Ripple, has criticized the stance taken by policy makers on cryptocurrencies and their approach to regulating the booming industry.
Alderoty voiced his displeasure with certain senior bureaucrats who have formed an opinion about the status of crypto assets as securities. He highlighted the importance of understanding the implications of their actions and words on the rapidly expanding digital asset sector.
Alderoty also advised caution in joining the anti-crypto campaign of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, reminding politicians of her less than successful presidential campaign.
Warren has been attempting to reach out to conservative Senate Republicans for support on her crypto bill, which would enforce rigorous anti-money laundering rules, in her attempts to form a unified front against the digital asset industry.
The Ripple executive is convinced that the ongoing legal battle with the SEC will be won, citing a recent court decision that denied the so called expert views of the SEC on XRP while enabling Ripple to remain involved. He has repeatedly criticized SEC Chair Gary Gensler and his anti-crypto stance, recently claiming that it may become a political liability for U.S. President Joe Biden.
UNICEF Announces Interest In Developing Its Own DAO
UNICEF, the largest humanitarian aid organization in the world, is experimenting with the idea of a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) to greatly boost its work with children around the world.
According to various reports, the organization is currently in the early stages of a pilot program designed to facilitate simpler interaction among the users of a DPG (Digital Public Good) when addressing the addition of potential new features to the project.
A DPG is a kind of freely available software, model, or standard which nations may employ to construct digital infrastructure instead of private proprietary solutions. UNICEF eventually hopes to build a platform which projects can readily use to conduct DAO governance votes in order to fund any new features.
Moreover, because of its high throughput and low cost, UNICEF chose the Ethereum layer-two scaling solution Polygon as the host for its DAO pilot. UNICEF has also experimented with the open-source voting tool known as Snapshot for possible future governance proposals,.
UNICEF previously developed a CryptoFund in 2019 to accept BTC and ETH donations. Contributions to the fund are utilized to financially support startups identified by the organization as supplying technological innovations which primarily benefit children in need.
It particularly aids these startups in obtaining DPG certification through the Digital Public Goods Alliance. To date, the fund has invested in over 40 startups, and its portfolio companies have generated approximately $17 million in follow-on funding after exiting the program. ETC Labs, Animoca Brands, and Huobi Charity are among the notable donors to this fund.
Disney Scraps Metaverse Division As Layoffs Continue
According to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Walt Disney Company has completely removed its metaverse division as part of a massive reduction in head count over the next two months.
CEO Bob Iger announced on Monday that layoffs would start this week. The team that was working on metaverse strategies, which had the potential to be the next cutting-edge storytelling and consumer experiences unit for Disney, appears to be one of the first to go.
Presently, Mike White leads the metaverse division after being promoted from SVP of consumer experiences and platforms last year. He was tasked with bringing Disney deeper into the emerging Web3 space. The division appeared to focus on finding new ways to tell engaging narratives via immersive formats.
According to WSJ, nearly all 50 or so members of the division have either already lost their jobs or will be let go very soon. For his part, Mike will reportedly continue to work for the company, but it is unclear in what capacity.
Disney announced last month that it would make over $5 billion in cuts and lay off 7,000 employees as part of a larger restructuring. Disney, like many other massive corporations, is under pressure to cut costs, which often means abandoning expensive moonshot projects which do not generate immediate revenue.
CFTC Sues Binance And Changpeng Zhao Over Regulatory Violations
The U.S. CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) has filed a lawsuit against Binance and CEO Changpeng Zhao for allegedly violating trading regulations. The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Illinois.
Binance reportedly failed to meet its regulatory obligations, according to the CFTC, by not being able to properly register with the derivatives regulator. Since 2021, the crypto exchange has been the subject of a CFTC investigation.
In February, the exchange acknowledged that it would most likely face regulatory action in the U.S. and that it had already been working with regulators to alleviate some concerns.
Binance has additionally been investigated by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and federal prosecutors, who have questioned whether the exchange has indeed complied with the proper AML and KYC policies. Correspondingly, the U.S. SEC is also looking into whether Binance gave local traders access to unregistered securities.
However, not everyone is supportive of the actions taken by the likes of the CFTC and SEC, as with the recent failures of banks such as SVB (Silicon Valley Bank), many have instead started embracing crypto.
In fact, Cathie Wood believes Bitcoin will skyrocket in value if the trust in the traditional financial system continues to erode. The ARK Invest CEO claims that the decentralized nature of crypto and its scarcity will attract capital seeking a superior store of value to what has previously been available.
UAE Announces CBDC Strategy As Work Begins On Digital Dirham
As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prepares its core infrastructure for the future of finance, the UAE Central Bank has started implementing its central bank digital currency (CBDC) strategy, the Digital Dirham. A CBDC is a digital representation of government-issued currency. They are comparable to cryptocurrencies in that their value is determined by the local monetary authority and is equal to the value of the corresponding fiat currency.
In a statement last week, the regulator stated that it had signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi based G42 Cloud and R3 (a digital finance services provider) to successfully become the primary infrastructure and technology providers for the eventual rollout of the new CBDC.
What issues will the CBDC solve?
The Digital Dirham seeks to solve the main recurring problems of both domestic and cross-border payments, in addition to improving financial inclusion as well as the eventual transition to a fully cashless society. The CBDC will also look to help strengthen the payment infrastructure in the UAE by adding new channels and enhancing accessibility.
The CBDC strategy, which is just one of nine initiatives launched by the Central Bank in February, will reportedly further position and solidify the country as a leading global financial hub, according to Khaled Balama, Governor of the UAE Central Bank.
The launch of the CBDC strategy is a significant step forward in the evolution of money and payments in the country, and the Digital Dirham will hence play a significant role in accelerating this journey and promoting financial inclusion going forward.
The UAE continues to impress
The Reserve Bank of India and the UAE Central Bank recently signed an initial agreement to enhance collaboration and empower innovation in financial products and services, part of which includes proof-of-concept and pilots of a bilateral central bank digital currency bridge to facilitate cross-border CBDC remittances and trade.
According to the UAE Central Bank, the main goal is to ensure that the country is ready and able to integrate payment infrastructures with future potential tokenization options which could also involve the tokenization of both financial as well as non-financial activities.
There is a recurring argument that CBDCs offer some semblance of stability in the volatile cryptocurrency market. They mitigate the risks associated with crypto use and provide a reliable means of exchanging digital assets.
CBDCs are hence often thought of as a risk-free form of digital money that is issued and guaranteed by the central bank which also serves as a safe, cost-effective, and reliable form of payment as well as long term store of value. However, many have argued against this viewpoint by claiming that CBDCs have their own risks as well.
Regardless, central banks around the world are actively looking into the development of digital currencies, as cryptocurrencies continue to gain popularity as an asset class among retail and institutional investors. In fact, as per the US-based think tank Atlantic Council, 65 countries are already in late stages of CBDC development as of March 1st. According to the report, the UAE is one of 18 countries which have made the most progress in CBDCs by 2023, joining the likes of Australia, Brazil, China, Canada, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.
Do Kwon Finally Apprehended In Montenegro After Months Of Being On The Run
Do Kwon, the fugitive crypto boss responsible for the infamous collapse of the Terra (LUNA) ecosystem, was recently apprehended in Montenegro, according to South Korean police.
Earlier this year, US regulators charged Mr. Kwon and his company Terraform Labs with masterminding a multibillion dollar cryptocurrency asset securities fraud which led to a huge crash in the market.
Last September, South Korean authorities issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Kwon, believing Terraform Labs had breached capital market guidelines. They believed he was in Serbia and sent officials to Belgrade to negotiate, despite the fact that the two countries do not have an extradition treaty. According to Elliptic, investors in TerraUSD and LUNA lost an estimated $42 billion globally.
Do Kwon has repeatedly denied being in hiding but also never revealed where he was. The disgraced crypto executive was allegedly traveling under a false name and using forged documents. South Korean police confirmed Mr Kwon as the suspect in Montenegro on Friday after his fingerprints matched official records.
Leading VC Firm Successfully Closes $1.2 Million Seed Round
Contango Digital Assets has successfully closed its $1.2 million seed round for its parent business to establish Web3 infrastructure and spread awareness for Contango as a top investment firm going forward.
Thus far, Contango has deployed over $7 million to support more than 50 Web3 teams, with plans to at least double that figure this year. Unsurprisingly, the seed round has piqued the interest of a diverse group of investors, including Family Office, Venture Capital, and HNW Angel investors.
This round was a catalyst for Contango, as it enables everyone involved to bet on the the unprecedented growth of this booming industry while establising a viable presence as one of the top rising VCs in the Web3 space, said Contango Digital Assets Co-Founder Mike Grantis.
Fellow Co Founder Josh Field further clarified that the team envisions a future in which they can provide reliable avenues for all levels of sophisticated investors to gain access to competitive Web3 private markets that are typically only available to large funds.
Contango intends to accomplish this by consistently innovating on the existing infrastructure available to investors and developing systems that increase transparency in this process. This seed round will therefore act as the aforementioned catalyst to successfully execute that vision.
In the Web3 private investment landscape, the firm is currently developing a SaaS platform which shall add transparency to the complicated private capital markets while simultaneously leveling the playing field for angel investors.
New CBDC Ban Suggested By Florida Governor
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has introduced new legislation to protect residents from a national CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) in accordance with the new Uniform Commercial Code.
The bill, if passed, would also protect Floridians from a global digital currency issued by a foreign central bank. Florida, according to DeSantis, will not support the deterioration of financial freedom.
Governor DeSantis has also urged other governors to fight surveillance and control from the federal government by enacting similar legislation under their commercial codes.
Tarren Bragdon from The Foundation for Government Accountability stated that he supported the bill and was opposed to a government bureaucracy which was clearly out of control.
Elsewhere, The Federal Reserve of the United States recently announced that its FedNow payments system would go live in July 2023.
FedNow, widely regarded as a forerunner to a programmable CBDC, will aspire to settle payments quickly between merchants, consumers, and banks. It is worth noting that blockchain technology is not used in the settlements.
Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard stated in May of last year that FedNow serves nearly the same purpose as a CBDC. A CBDC, on the other hand, would be legal tender instead of a real-time payment system.
Arbitrum Officially Announces Intentions Of DAO Transition And New Token Airdrop
Arbitrum has finally announced its plans of getting a token. According to the Arbitrum Foundation, ARB will be the official name of the new token, and it shall reportedly be airdropped to community members on March 23rd, 2023.
As per the Arbitrum Foundation, ARB will therefore mark the official transition of Arbirtrum into a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), which means that ARB holders shall be allowed to vote on key decisions governing Arbitrum One and Arbitrum Nova. Both of these are networks which enable users to transact on the Ethereum blockchain at faster and relatively lower fees.
Arbitrum DAO will be given the authority to regulate key decisions at the core protocol level, such as from how the core technology is updated to how revenue can be used to support the ecosystem. Moreover, while the Arbitrum Foundation intends to distribute a relatively large number of tokens (44%), Offchain Labs claims that the ARB token would make the Arbitrum ecosystem much more decentralized than alternative scaling chains.
The most exciting part however is certainly the decentralization aspect, in the sense that Offchain Labs would no longer have any control over the future of this chain, according to Offchain Labs CEO Steven Goldfeder. Arbitrum collaborated with Nansen, a crypto analytics firm, in February to monitor user activity in order to determine who can qualify for ARB tokens.
Additionally, users of Arbitrum can check their eligibility for the airdrop and also claim tokens if they qualify. They are advised to exercise caution when claiming their tokens though as scammers often rely on airdrops to phish people through spoof websites and other schemes.
Time is of the essence
Arbitrum has nearly $3.7 billion invested in its Ethereum rollup network, Aribtrum One, making it the undisputed market leader in a crowded field of rival chains. Arbitrum also controls 55% of the Ethereum Layer 2 market, according to an analytics website called L2 Beat. Since the network went live in 2021, anticipation for an Arbitrum token has been at an all-time high as the project is one of the most noteworthy crypto projects without a token.
Optimism, the main competitor to Arbitrum in the Ethereum scaling space, also launched its own token nearly a year ago when it transitioned to DAO governance. Arbitrum One and Optimism are both examples of optimistic rollup networks. They are blockchains that run alongside Ethereum, group together large numbers of transactions, and then write those transactions to the Ethereum ledger in bulk, reducing the fees required to execute those transactions individually.
Microsoft Reportedly Testing New Built-In Crypto Wallet
Microsoft is reportedly working on an Ethereum crypto wallet built into its Edge browser, allowing users to send and receive crypto and NFTs without the need for additional extensions. The wallet is currently in limited testing and is a non-custodial solution, providing users complete control over their funds.
According to BleepingComputer, this experimental Edge browser feature was discovered by the pseudonymous software documenter Albacore. Microsoft, in collaboration with Consensys, shall also provide a built-in crypto swap feature between $ETH, $DAI, $UNI, $USDC, and $USDT.
Moreover, the public keys of the Edge Crypto Wallet enable users to receive payments and they must also keep secret private keys in order to authorize transactions. The wallet appears to be in its early stages for now, with access granted only to Microsoft Edge Dev Channel users.
Also, Microsoft emphasized that during the onboarding process, it would not have access to passwords or recovery keys. To secure and recover their crypto wallet, testers must create a password and a 12-word recovery phrase.
When the onboarding process is finished, the wallet generates an Ethereum address for receiving funds, and multiple Ethereum accounts are also supported by the Edge Crypto Wallet. Users can also connect to dApps and read the latest crypto news. Lastly, there are some indications that support for a Bitcoin wallet may be added in the future.
Uniswap Officially Expands To BNB After Successful Governance Proposal
Uniswap, the biggest decentralized exchange protocol by trade volume, has launched on BNB Chain, a decentralized EVM-compatible smart contract blockchain founded by Binance. The move follows a successful governance proposal to deploy on BNB Chain in February, as well as contentious governance deliberations to determine a bridge solution for the deployment.
With this expansion, Uniswap Protocol users will be able to trade and swap tokens across the network by taking advantage of the comparatively low transaction fees of BNB Chain.
Also, with the flourishing and devoted community of BNB Chain, as well as its scalability and accessibility, it has quickly become a launchpad for all things Web3, where protocols looking to reach a larger audience can grow, says Alvin Kan, the Director of Growth for BNB Chain.
He said that the team is encouraged by the continued dedication of Uniswap to providing value to its users and laying the groundwork for the future of decentralization.
Is Crypto Indeed A Safer Option Than Banks Now
With the SVB debacle, and with the recent signs of an apparent bull run on the horizon, it is now possible to conclude that crypto has resolved many of its previous issues, whereas fiat has not.
As a result, crypto may indeed be a safer option at this point, which both depositors and investors should consider as they are reminded yet again that their deposits belong to the bank, and that the bank can do whatever it wants with that money, including investing in crashing bonds which result in depositor losses.
Moreover, despite the fact that the largest US banks are making over $100 billion in profits per quarter, if they are indeed gambling in the bond or stock markets, even huge profits may not be enough. This was the case of SVB, which collapsed with tens of billions in deposits and, crucially, no one really knows why this happened with absolute certainty.
In contrast, not only is everyone in crypto in charge of their own assets but the community also quickly identifies what is and is not affected in these types of situations, as well as how far it might all reverberate. Crypto is thus now arguably safer, whereas in fiat we do not yet know the full effects of the rapid increases in debt costs, which have most likely not yet fully cleared through the system either.
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